What it is like to be a Muslim woman

…and why we know what freedom is.

For Part Two of this, see here. For a defense and rationale of the title ‘What it is like to be a Muslim woman’, see here.

For more from the ‘what it is like to…’ series see here and here.


I have keys.

When I first moved to the United States eleven months ago, it took me several weeks to grasp this bit of information.

I have keys.

I have keys to my own front door and I can open this front door and walk down the street whenever I want to.

I can walk down the street without being watched through the windows and without anyone calling my parents and telling them I am roaming loose on the street.

I can walk down the street, sit down on a bench under a tree, and eat an iced cream cone. Then I can stand up and walk back home.

There will be nobody waiting for me at my house to ask me where I have been, refuse to let me in, call me a liar, and use my walk as renewed incentive to rifle through all of my possessions for proof that I am doing something wrong.

Because the simple desire to take a walk cannot but hide something deviant.

Because there is no good reason why a woman should want to walk down the street just to walk, and expose herself to the questioning and predatory eyes of the neighbors and strange men.

I have keys to my front door, now, and I can open my front door and walk down the street whenever I want to.

In the first weeks when I was in the United States, I had so much fear and trembling at this freedom. I stayed in my apartment alone during my first two days in my new home, and when I did finally venture out, I checked to make sure my keys and ID and wallet were in my purse a thousand times. I wore long, flowing dresses and tied my hair up in a scarf even though it was August and very hot, even though I am an atheist who happens to find no personal value in modesty, even though I was not going out to meet anybody and knew not a single man in town, even though I tried to convince myself that in this land it wouldn’t matter if I was. I looked around every corner and checked over my shoulder in case my father was somehow watching, lurking.

It took a couple of months to stop expecting to see my father in a place I was going or coming from.

I soon got into the groove of my new life, my new graduate program, my teaching and department readings and events. I actually went to bars and stopped feeling guilty about it. I met people. I made friendships, some of them with men, none of them that I had to hide or lie about. I had sexual and romantic relationships.

And all this while, and even now, it sometimes feels like I am another person living a distant dream. A phantom woman. A woman who is only pretending to do things and be things that were never hers.

Even now, I sometimes cannot believe I am not hallucinating all of this from a dark room in Beirut.

Even now, I wake up from dreams of Lebanon and think, “I have my own place. My front door. MY key. And I can open the door and walk out into the street? Whenever I want? And I have MY papers and MY things and MY income? And I can just go somewhere. When I want? I can do this?”

It must be a sick joke.

And I can be at the library however late I want without panicking and fearing for my safety once I go home? Without knowing the neighbors will call me a whore? I can have people over when the sun is down and some of them can be men and we can play games and eat and drink and talk together and nobody will hurt me because of it?


And if I leave something someplace, I will come back and find it where I left it, unless I moved it myself.

And if it’s somewhere else, it is likely I moved it and forgot, and I will not start panicking, wondering where and why and how it was moved. I will not wonder: if whoever moved it saw it, did they see that other thing and did they do something with it and what do they know and what do they not know?

Even though I am hiding simple things. A tube of mascara. Some lacy underwear just to see what it feels like to wear that. A poem I really love from the persona of the devil. Something written by a Jewish author. A novel a boy in my class gifted to me. A box of tampons.

I can write things without hiding, coding, burying, and stashing them. I can make notes for myself in a notebook that are for my eyes only without fearing anybody reading them and demanding I reveal their meaning. I can have a password on my computer and to my email and facebook accounts that my parents do not know. I can save my contacts under their real names and not under various female pseudonyms.

I can keep my texts when I receive them and not instantly erase them. I can take my phone off silent mode and if it vibrates in my pocket I can take it out and answer it or turn it off without having a panic attack and without having to find a reasonable excuse to sneak out of the room without seeming flustered.

I can talk on the phone without somebody listening on the other end.

I can ignore a phonecall from my father when I am in class or teaching.

I can forget my phone in another room and not be asked where I am and with whom, and what I am doing because I missed a call from him.

If I spend more than five minutes in the bathroom, nobody will bang on my door demanding to know what I am doing in there.

I can shave my legs without being interrogated as to why I’d do such a thing when nobody ever sees them.

I can brush my hair and look in the mirror and try on clothes and try to feel like I can manipulate and move and enjoy my body, try to feel pretty, without being interrogated and asked who he is and how long I have been seeing him and what I am doing with him and whether I am a prostitute or pregnant.

I can slim down inadvertently or say I am not hungry for dinner without anybody demanding to know why and for whom I am trying to lose weight,.

I can shower without being asked why.

I can smile because I had a good day at work without being forced to explain why I am so happy.

I can cry at my empty, robotic life without being forced to explain why I am unhappy.

I can have facial expressions. Facial expressions.

I can have facial expressions.

I can have facial expressions.

It has been so hard to train myself to voice my feelings and opinions. To turn my face on.

I can sit however I want within my own house without being told that the position my legs are in is immodest.

I can stay up late doing work and reading philosophy or just derping around on teh interwebz without being forced to go to bed.

I can read and use the internet without surveillance and censorship.

I can watch a movie without turning it over for examination first.

I can sleep when I want, wake when I want, eat when I want or don’t want to.

I do not have to pretend to fast and pray.

I can prioritize my work over serving other people. Never again will I pull somebody’s socks off and bring them their food and drink on command.

I can get up in the middle of the night and use the bathroom or get a drink of water without tiptoeing in terror.

I can lock my room door. I can lock the door of my own room.

Saying I want to be alone, that I need space, that I do not want to reveal personal information, that I do not choose to answer that question, that it is none of your damn business, that this is my body and I can position it on the furniture however I like, that I do not have to explain to you why I am smiling, that this is my time, that this is my work, this is my mind and I can use it to read and write what I please…

I can say these things now.

I never could before.

We never could, before. So many of us cannot, still.

This way of living–having to regulate and hide our personalities, our humanity–the tone of our voices, their volume and timbre, the manner in which we sit or stand or walk or speak, whether and when we can leave our homes, how and when we speak to people, what we do and do not read, can and cannot think or express–this way of living is the reality and default for so many of us.

We are suppressed beyond imagining.

Notice that the above does not even begin to touch upon the horrendous physical violence–abuse, marital rape (or just rape), child marriage (enslavement and rape), rape, whipping, stoning, genital mutilation–that happens to a not insignificant number of women who violate the above code of living.

Pretend that isn’t even a thing. Ignore the violence, for now. Set that aside.

And think, now, how even setting all of that horror aside, and pretending that it doesn’t come hand-in-hand with an obsession with the control of our bodies and our conduct and honor and shame, even setting it aside, this is how we have lived.

This is how my sister lives still, my mother, my cousins, my friends.

Think of this, and try to understand what freedom means to women like us. What it means to have choice. What it means to have true choice and not just a variety of empty options. because we too can walk into an iced cream shop and choose what flavor we want just like we could in America, and this is not freedom.

Chronic misunderstanding of institutional forms of oppression is blind to this distinction. The pervasive and fallacious argument that women from Muslim families and/or who live in in Muslim-majority countries with laws on the books allowing them to do everything I have cited as forbidden, that allow them to have technically as many options as men, or as women in the West,  claiming that nobody forces them to do anything absolutely–this is akin to saying that African American kids growing up in inner city slums have the same opportunities as straight white males.

Yes, many of us can go to school, can work, can earn and spend our own money. But what we study or work at, and how and why and when and where and with whom and wearing what–all of this is controlled. If we try to do otherwise, there are institutional mechanisms in place–sectarian politics, social norms and customs ignored by law, people in positions of influence at our workplaces and schools and police stations and government–that can destroy us. That this is a common and chronic condition wherever Muslims live and socialize is true–that it also occurs in other third world societies and countries where Muslims do not live and socialize  makes this no less of an actuality in places where Muslim thought and custom constitute and contribute to society and politics.

We have freedoms that are not freedoms, and we can continue to go to school and go to work and be empty robots all the while. And if we gave up and stayed at home, we would be giving up our education and our careers, it is true, as limited as those things are, but we would also be giving up the chronic hopelessness and self-defeat and empty confusion of striving, striving, striving to be fulfilled when we are effectively mannequins.

It is like three quarters of our limbs and muscles are controlled by strings, and the quarter we have some ability to move keep trying to overcompensate and convince us we are real people.

Giving up is so, so tempting.

But sometimes, sometimes, we escape.

And after we escape, or after things change for us?

We will spend some time adjusting. We will be able to grasp, eventually, what it is like to have freedoms.

Some days we will even take them for granted, and if we realize we’ve done so, we will feel a sort of confused resentment at ourselves for being such spoiled first-world brats and then guilt for feeling that having human rights means we are spoiled because rights should be just that–granted.

Some days, however, we’ll be very aware of our rights. The ridiculous pervasiveness of choice around us will paralyze and confuse us, and we will feel empty, incomplete.

I have had a panic attack choosing pizza toppings when my partner would not take ‘whatever you want’ as an answer for the umpteenth consecutive time.

I have become so used to choosing things according to a quick assessment of what other people want, prefer, or require, so that they will be happy and content and thus my life around them will be easier, so that they will not hurt me or destroy me–so used to choosing what will make others happy– I have become so used to that that I  am deeply depressed trying to make anything meaningful for myself.

I do not know how to become invested in my work and my art, because my life was never more than a big empty chamber of apathetic nothingness at best, and horrible torture at worst.

And I am afraid of becoming capable of being free. I am afraid of transcending my ability to let my trauma and unhappiness consume me. I am afraid that succeeding in pulling together that broken part of me that does not know how to choose or care or be, how to quit compulsively faking emotions and detaching–I am afraid of becoming free because I am afraid of being no longer angry, no longer cognizant of this incredible injustice, being blind to what it means to not to be free.

I am afraid of being happy because it might mean I accept and am blind to my former chains.

I am afraid of forgetting what it means to be free.

I am afraid that once I have freedom, I will no longer understand what freedom is worth and why it is important.

This is my reminder.


Disclaimer: This is clearly not meant to be reflective of the experiences of all or even necessarily most women who are Muslim or have been raised in Muslim-majority countries or households. This is meant to further understanding of what it is in fact like for many women. This particular blog post is also not making any argument as to how, why, or whether Islam as a religion, doctrine, or ideology in any or all of its forms contributes to the oppression described in this post. That goes beyond the scope of this piece, but I will address it in future pieces.

PS: I can with confidence say, however, that the above is very reflective of my friend Reem Abdel-Razek‘s life and experiences. If you support freedom and have the willingness and the means, please help her stay in the United States. Please contribute to her campaign and support the right to political asylum.  For reasons why you should support her, read my blog post on the topic here.

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  • Traveling professor

    Over the years I’ve read books about the lack of freedom that man Moslem women experience,and mostly they concur with what you have written above (e.g., At the Drop of a Veil; Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women; The Hidden Face of Eve). I started reading such books as a teenager; I’m now 50. It seems that every decade I read one of these books, and the oppression recounted cut me anew. Then last year I read the most strongest one of all, Ayan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel. I thought I was aware of what Moslem women go thru, but it was a harder more detailed version than any before. But when I talk about these books to men I know, they say that I am being an anti-Ismal Bigot. How dare I, I privileged white American woman, a college professor who teaches cross-cultural psychology for god sake, be anti-Moslem. What am I, an american conservative racist? But now I read you saying the same thing (Hirsi Ali recounts such restrictions on freedom at length) — and you too have an end-note apologizing for stating your view. Can’t we criticize what happens to Moslem women without being an Islamaphobe? Thank you for printing the above. Believe in yourself.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      Thank you for your support and comments, and above all for recognizing and being cognizant of the state of affairs of many Muslim women and how tentative and misaligned the understanding of their plight is among Western liberals.

      I would like to clarify that my disclaimer is meant not as an apology, but as a clarification, setting out clearly what this blog post is trying to do and what it is not trying to do, because I believe in delineating scope as a mark of effective communication.

      It is in fact true and accurate that not all women raised Muslim or living in Muslim-majority countries suffer the above suppression.
      I also wanted to make clear that, despite it being true that I am a strong advocate of and do subscribe to a critique of Islam in many of its forms and ideologies as contributing to and structuring this oppression, I have NOT provided a cogent argument in defense of this claim in this particular blog post, and do not want that to be misconstrued.

      I agree that we must be free to speak and give reasoned critique of Islam (or any other ideology) without being wrongly accused of anti-Muslim bigotry. I have addressed accusations of Islamophobia and xenophobia in my FAQ section if you care to take a look.

      Thank you, again, for your kind and careful comments.

      • Mo Fifty

        Interesting. I know that there are plenty of girls being raised like this in America who come from a fundamentalist Christian religion. Maybe not on the scale of Muslim nations, but its a vicious cycle to perpetuate a Patriarchal religion that see’s girls as nothing more than property to be controlled.

      • Pingback: What it is like to be a Muslim woman, and why we know what freedom is (and you may not) | baffledearth()

      • Jeanne

        “I agree that we must be free to speak and give reasoned critique of Islam (or any other ideology) without being wrongly accused of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

        Sadly, it isn’t the case. We are not free to speak or critique. Unfortunately religion of any kind is considered above reproach. But Islam feels justified to kill you if you speak out (after all, to them we are all “Infidels”.) Just ask Sam Harris. He cannot go anywhere without being guarded. Ask Rusdie, Ask Ayaan Hirsi Al.

        That said, I applaud you for being brave enough to publish the article.

        • nietzschesbreeches

          Thank you :) And you are correct, the screaming banner of Islamophobia is raised as soon as someone dares criticize Islam, whether or not that criticism is valid or reasoned, and we must continue to speak and continue to work to change this.

    • Blue

      Traveling professor, are you sure it wasn’t because you were actually being anti-Muslim and not anti-oppression? Islam and oppression are not synonymous. Not all Muslims, as the author said, endure this type of imprisonment. In fact I know a Muslim girl from Lebanon whose stories of home completely contradict the life of the author, and my life being raised as a devout Christian in a Christian community is actually extremely similar to what the author describes. Yet I do not blame the Christianity I left years ago. Was it not so long ago for us in the West we were treating our women like this, religious or not?

      I have read terrifying stories such as this but as a Muslim woman have never seen these stories reflect Islam. This is a problem with patriarchal culture presented under the guise of Islam. I am a rabid feminist, fighting patriarchy and misogyny at absolutely any moment in life I can, but as a Muslim I also see that a lot of people will incorrectly transfer the battle of patriarchy to a battle of religion. Remove the religion and people will still find an excuse to assert their superiority over others, whether it be based on gender, race or belief.

      I have never, ever seen someone genuinely attacking patriarchy in Muslim culture and Muslim communities be called an Islamophobe. I have however seen many people attacking Muslims and Islam be called an Islamophobe, and then make the same grievance as you.

      • Inkling

        Blue, you make a distinction between “genuinely attacking patriachy in Muslim culture and Muslim communities” and “attacking Muslims and Islam.” What, in your mind, is the line?

      • Blue

        The line is crossed when one generalizes and attacks a very diverse and almost undefinable group of people. The line is crossed when one can be quoted saying things like “Islam is a misogynistic and barbaric religion” and comments on articles about oppression and abhorrent events in Muslim cultures with “This is why religion needs to be obliterated.” I would react the exact same, and do, to Muslims who say the same about Western politics and atheism or agnosticism. I believe it is actually hurting the cause more than it is helping, because as the author has pointed out in her disclaimer Muslims and and Islam are not static, as much as fundamentalists would have us believe it is to tout their agendas and maintain their privilege.

        I think that really we all want the same thing here, which is change within Islamic cultures and communities. However attacking Islam is not going to change an Islamic culture or community, it will make your arguments fall on deaf ears. Attacking tradition and culture and standing with the many Muslim feminists and human rights activists who truly believe their faith is none of the things that people say – who reinterpret what they are taught and critically think about what they are told – that is what will bring change!

        I almost think it’s a vocabulary misunderstanding, that people mean to say “Islamic culture” or “Islamic society” but say “Islam”, because to them that is what Islam is. But without making the differentiating practicing Muslims are alienated from the struggle and become paired with the problem.

        • I have never experienced any form of oppression being a male coming from a working class white but liberal household. It shocks me to hear how women are treated in some cultures. I have nothing but the utmost respect for my mother and one of my sisters. The other sister and I don’t have a relationship but that is purely because she is alot older than I am and we have little in common.
          Thank you for sharing your article. I hope that one day the opression of women will be a thing of the past.

      • I have a problem with your reasoning, agreed that individuals are different and will have distinctive opinions and there are women in Muslim majority countries who are working very hard to change their societies.

        But, Islam as such is an immoral doctrine, and it does condone subjugation of women, so blaming only the society will not suffice, we need also to identify the perpetrator, that is the doctrine itself and criticize that, and yes, in light of that, the world will be better off without the idiotic and outrageously immoral, warmongering Islam. No compromise on that.

        The way of doing it is only through education and ridicule and unending criticism.

        I am not saying this is the problem of only Islam, oppression is omnipresent in all economically backward societies, it disgustingly surfaces it’s head even in the most modern societies at times, we should recognize this and oppose it with all our strength, no compromise in this too.

        But we need also to recognize the fact that, such societies and countries are the most religious, and religions play a vital role in perpetuating the problem

      • @ Blue I’m replying to your comments below. I agree that attacking Islam as such will not work. Doing so would almost certainly alienate those who follow it. However, the ideologies of Islam that are anti-individual rights–Jihad, Sharia, taqiyya, slaying infidels, honor killings–should be attacked. Those open to reason amongst Muslims really shouldn’t have any problem with this. In fact, if they are open to reason, they should nod in agreement over comdemnation of such ideas and practices. The voice against such ideas and practices is what is needed, fundamentally, to put an end to them.

      • Stuntddude

        The problem with this is that Islam *is* at least in part a misogynistic and barbaric religion, by the scriptures alone. It condones harmful practices and ideologies whether or not Muslims follow them. The religion itself is problematic, it’s not only the culture that is at fault here.

    • Vance

      I don’t believe that’s possible, in most situations. In this country we seem to be gripped by a politically correct view that Demands Tolerance of all beliefs and lifestyles. Even if those beliefs or lifestyles have elements of hate, violence ( rape, honor killings…etc).
      I believe we’ve gone too far, when you must appologize for not liking rape!

  • Reblogged this on TOAL and commented:
    Ramadhan Mubarak!

  • Pingback: The least I can do | A Game Not Worth Playing()

  • Will share this and it’s going in my bookmarks as well, thanks for writing it. And thank you for making the point about that oppression is institutionalised or systemic in nature. It’s an important point which most people don’t get, and which sociologists have pointed out (e.g. see

  • Reblogged this on The Syed Atheist and commented:
    “I am afraid that once I have freedom, I will no longer understand what freedom is worth and why it is important.”
    A blog by an ex-Muslim.

  • Marwa, Wow, you write incredibly well in english and I really got moved by your post! Thank you! I really hope that as many people as possible could read this to realise a little what it is really like to be in your shoes… Keep it up!

    • nietzschesbreeches

      Leon, thank you for your kind words. I would like to clarify that I am an American dual national. I was taken back to the Middle East when I was 6. English is one of my native tongues. I teach English at a university here in the US.

      If you would like to take a look, I address the danger of misconceptions about Muslims speaking English and ‘looking white’ in my blog post in support of Reem Abdel-Razek’s campaign.

  • Reblogged this on Contemplating and commented:
    Things that stay behind the veil…

  • Hena Khan

    I am a Muslim girl myself & I admit that, to some extent, these incidents do happen to me as well. However, this social behavior or attitude is not encouraged by Islam, as so many have misunderstood. Islam gives us the freedom to adopt modest & reasonable fashion, to bathe & pamper yourself, to eat what you want, go where ever you want, to do & choose whatever you want! This isn’t about religion, its about the society & though social norms vary from place to place & person to person, they are as ‘demanding’ as the one described above.
    With no offense to any Americans. I would like to give a few examples. I have a couple friends there as I spent my childhood ther & I have been able to keep contact with them. Most of them have told me that people look down upon them not only for their religion, but for what they wear, for not drinking & for still being a virgin when they are 18! They are ridiculed in public & sometimes forced into things they don’t want to do. Some of them even say that as long as a person is not Muslim, other people will act normally but in the other case, they would snoop on them & would be looking out for any oppertunity to label them as terrorists. They are countless other examples. However, through study of many religions, I have found that none of them (including Islam & Christianity) encourage such behavior. Then why do we spread this misconception?

    • Blue

      My thoughts exactly! One thing I noticed after reading the author’s FAQ is that she defends attacks on “Islam” as not being Islamophobia, and I think that she is right in the sense that this isn’t Islamophobia but this also isn’t an attack on Islam. This is an attack on culture and social norms in Muslim societies, as you said, and we can see Islam and how it is practiced varies from culture to culture, like more progressive countries like Mali to Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries. If you went to Mali, where prior to the recent extremist coup (and hopefully back to normal soon) no one was forced to wear a veil and said “I am fighting against Islam because I feel I shouldn’t be forced to dress hijab” they would probably laugh, because in their culture that isn’t Islam. In fact 90% of Mali’s citizens are Muslim but hardly any dress hijab. I think before the coup it was under 10% of women practiced hijab.

      As an ex-Christian, I spend all my current involvement in the religion lending progressives my voice in order to assist them in removing the patriarchal vein from which their religion is taught and interpreted. I think shaming Muslims in general by telling them “this is your religion as I see it” is a little presumptuous and generalizing. We will fight patriarchy not by shaming religions but by shaming those who choose to assert that misogyny and patriarchy have a place in these religions!

      In order to fight against misogyny in these cultures, stories like this have to be told. I was a bit put off by the FAQ and the way some of it was phrased but in general I want to do anything to support the battle towards this type of oppression.

      • Edward

        I’m always confused by apologists who try to divorce Islam and culture, as if the two were somehow unrelated. If the misogyny, repression, and violence committed by Muslims is unrelated to the teachings of Islam, then why do so many Muslims use Islam to justify them? How come they cite the Hadiths and Koran as the foundation for their behavior? How come misogynistic, repression, and violent behaviors of Muslims increase as they become more devout and fundamentalist? Did the ayatollah’s in Iran or Saudi Arabia not read any Islamic texts before codifying their repressive and discriminatory laws on their nations?

        Salman Rushdie once said in an interview that people today who keep trying to divide Islam from culture are like communists in the 20th century trying to distance themselves from Stalin and the Soviet Union. They justified the repression and violence of the Soviet regime by claiming that they weren’t practicing “real” communism, which was a system of peace and love, and claimed that if only it was possible to get rid of communism as it was actually practiced the could introduce “real” communism and everyone would be happy. If only you could get rid of Islam as it is actually practiced and interpreted, which is misogynistic, repressive and violent, then you could introduce “real” Islam, which of course is a religion of peace and love. I’m sorry but I just don’t see how you can put much faith in that.

      • Mackenzie

        Bosnia y Hercegovina is a majority-Muslim country. If you tried telling a Bosnian woman that she’s supposed to be wearing a veil, she’d laugh in your face. Tell a Pakistani friend of mine that he’s not supposed to drink, and he’ll pop the cap off a Taj and take a swig.

        Similarly, if you tried saying all of Christianity is sexist and homophobic, you’d hit a little snag when you run into Quakers–we’ve had women preachers from the start (1650s) and have advocated for respect for gay couples since the 60s and at least among the coast-dwellers started performing gay marriages in the 80s. That bit about coast-dwellers? That’s because, just like Islam, Quakers vary by local culture too. Midwestern Quakers are different from DC Quakers the way Saudi Muslims are different from Indonesian Muslims.

      • Edward


        So, because Bosnians don’t wear a veil it’s not mandatory in Iran? Because they don’t wear the veil Chechen women aren’t being attacked for immodesty by Muslim men? Because they don’t wear the veil, Iran doesn’t use Islamic verses or tradition to justify the whipping of women for immodesty? Saudi Arabia didn’t let female students out of a burning building just because they weren’t properly veiled? Just because Pakistanis drink alcohol does that mean you’re free to drink it in Saudi Arabia? The Koran doesn’t call alcohol an abomination? (Al-Qur’an 5:90) If Sharia isn’t based on Islam and Islamic texts, then what it is based off of?

        Because the Quakers allow for women preachers, did that erase the Bible’s order for women to remain silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34) and never to teach or have authority over men? (1 Corinthians 14:34) Does the fact that some Christians accept homosexuals re-write Leviticus 18:22? “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” How do local differences disprove broad trends? How is the casual link between the devotion to misogynistic and repressive religious texts and actual misogyny and repression broken because some followers adhere to a loser interpretation of those texts? If the people who routinely adhere closely to these texts routinely oppressive and persecute women and homosexuals, doesn’t that imply that the texts themselves are the cause?

    • Cassanders

      …..Islam gives us the freedom to adopt modest & reasonable fashion…..

      I would think modest is a central word here. This because it is very close to the intention conveyed in the Quran (I am sure you are familiar with the passages where the over-zealous Umar spies on the prophet’s wives in the night….and yabbing and nagging along ….to the extent that the prophet finally find himself forced to have a prophecy on the matter…..) :-)
      Then it is interesting to see how easy Hena Kahn (and applauded by Blue, below) euphemizes the issue.
      Neither seems (for one moment ) to reflect on the fundamental issues at hand.
      Firstly that it is not the story’s subject – the I of the story, who decides WHAT is MODEST. Secondly, that the meme of “modesty” has been internalized to the degree that it works as a portable mental prison.

      And if you should wonder:
      No I’m not impressed by religious women, be them judaistic, christian or muslims (or whatever brand) pseudo-intellectualizing over their “freedom” to decorate their chains.

      Half the lies they tell about me are true

    • Factually you are incorrect, Islam does support misogyny and clearly says women are nothing but servants to their husbands or father, Go read your Quran.

    • Because it’s not a misconception. The countries in the world where women are treated worst, are all heavily influenced by patriarchal religions, while the countries where women are treated best are all dominated by secular ideas. This is not, no matter what you claim, a coincidence.

  • Please keep writing!
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  • Acleron

    This needs to be said. Even those of us who support freedom for women from afar do not understand how mind numbingly oppressive it can be.

  • Maz

    That story brought a few home truth, I live in Great Britain! Growing up trying to integrate into western society without offending parents, extended family, community was do difficult that most if my young adult life I had to live to life’s outside with my friends, work colleagues and male friends and my home life were I was the obedient ( most times) daughter….your story speaks for many Muslims girls who still today trying to be accepted as equals in a screwed up mans interpretations of religion and honour or just controll freaks who are afraid … I wish you well embrace your freedom and never be afraid to speak your mind.

  • Marta

    Well. I have found me in what you wrote. I’m not muslim. I was raised by an eastern european family of university educated people, in post-communist country. I’ve lived the same way, have and had the same restrictions and violence placed upon me. I hope you learn to love the things YOU love, and do the things YOU want to do. Stay strong!

  • Sherri van der Wege

    Such a powerful essay. Thank you.

  • I feel like weeping when I read this blog. I’ve had so many of my Muslim female friends confide in me that the most difficult thing in their world is that everyone SUSPECTS them of doing something wrong when they are doing NOTHING but walking about or chatting on the phone. I don’t know what has made so many in the Muslim society look with suspicion upon every female, checking on them, accusing them, and in some instances, punishing them for nothing more than others’ dark suspicions. From what my female friends tell me, it must be the most lonely life. I’ve always been amazed at this cultural habit of worrying about the females when it’s generally the males causing all the problems. ANYHOW, I am pleased to see you open up your heart and remind us that it is the little things in life that are so important when it comes to freedom. Thank you for this!

    • Blue

      I experienced this exact thing within my Christian community. I remember the suffocation I felt living there and feeling like I was flying when I left. I was also forbidden to own keys, while my brother was allowed, and every little detail about this just rings so close to home.

      I also wonder what causes this cultural tendency to always have the onus on the female. In the Qur’an it tells men to lower their gaze, but how many “how to lower your gaze” guides exist as opposed to the number of guides shaming women for being immodest, whatever their definition of that is? I always say to people if they lowered their gaze like they were told they would never know if anyone was dressed hijab or not. 😉 That’s no matter to them, as for some reason controlling and making decisions for women is viewed by them as the foundation of a functional home and of society.

      • That does not surprise me. I do think you’re perfectly correct that conservative christians and conservative muslims share many of the same problems, thus the problem is really with conservative autoritarian patriarchal religion, and not with Islam specifically.

        But there’s an important difference: While a small minority of christians are this conservative, the same ideas are much more widespread in muslim families. The huge majority of christians are in practice fairly secular and feel free to openly ignore the teachings when they disagree with them. (for example more than 85% of catholic women use contraception – and the majority of them don’t consider it a sin, even though the pope and the catholic church claims it is)


    It is not the religion, the ideologies of Islam being described here. It is the religion and ideologies of privilege. Many of those who enjoy privilege, refuse to give it up. Many more, cannot even look at it. Even more, deny it.

    I, a white, Anglo-Saxon, male, born in the middle of the 20th century, in the United States of America, may never understand all my privilege. I appreciate this writing, in great part, because it reminds me of MY freedoms. It also reminds me that MY rights can be taken away by those whose ignorance matches their arrogance.

    Thank you.

    Dennis Jimmink

    • nietzschesbreeches

      That is the point, lest we forget. Thank you.

    • Blue

      In an above post I wrote that I wasn’t sure what drove men to grasp over the control of women’s bodies and lives, but I forget sometimes how enjoyable privilege can be for some people. Thanks for the reminder.

      • For many, it’s fear. Fear that without control and rules and snooping and interrogations, the very fabric of society would unravel and we’d descend into barbary.

        In practice, this ain’t true at all. The fear is unfounded. Scandinavia isn’t in practice any more barbaric than Iran, quite the opposite many would say.

  • Aisha Moahmmad

    Actually speaking Islam is the only Nobel religion that gives complete freedom and freewill to a woman… no restrictions, no control, no force…. a woman experiences her complete freedom and expresses and reveals her identity in her black head to toe tunic that she loves very much… the full body black gown, the headscarf gives her complete freedom and identity as a woman of substance….

    • Blue

      That may be true for some women Aisha but for every woman who feels like this there are two more woman suffocating under the oppression of a decision that is not hers, a body that is not hers and a life that is not hers. Does that mean we should shame it altogether? Certainly not, but we need to recognize what it symbolizes for many women and help them gain the right to choose.

      • Danti

        Yes we have the right to choose! But there are always consequences, what you sow is what you reap. Don’t you believe in life after life?

    • Any color you like as long as it is black. No restrictions, but don’t even think of pursuing that hot guy :).

    • Steve

      Poe’s Law strikes again

    • Cassanders

      I must confess I am a bit unsecure if your comment was intended as an irony…?

      If not, your statement is an excellent example of “the believers’ newspeak”. (If you haven’t read it yet, I highly reccomend Orwell’s “1984”. It is NOT about religion, but hopefully you should be able to discover a few things about language)

      In order to maintain (at least some) coherence between the real world and their religion’s requirements/expectations, the believers redefine words to have VERY different meaning from the common useage of the words/concepts Occationally morphing the concept into the OPPOSITE meaning of the word.
      …Like Orwell’s dystophy, where “minitruth” – the Ministry of Truth was producing propaganda -which to a great extent were lies….

      In Cod we trust

      • I was thinking she was being sarcastic, no one in their right mind would say such things about Islam and mean them too, literally.. It could only be sarcasm…. So I thought.. Poor me..

  • I was raised Catholic by a strict mother. I did not have the same restrictions as you but share many of them. When I moved out at the age of 21 with a job, she refused to speak to me. I moved anyway. It took her years to get over it. She acted as if I had committed a crime. I enjoyed reading your story. Thank you for sharing.

  • This was beautifully written. My last semester in college, as a mathematics-turned-anthropology major, this was the topic for my final project. I created an ethnographic research project on the subordination of women in the near east (particularly through education.) When I was first talked of this project to my peers, they scoffed at it as they didn’t see the oppression. “Some women can go to college now,” was what I was told. How did no one else see this?
    You’re right; others do not know what freedom really is. If they never experience anything out of their “box,” how can they understand anything else?
    I personally was born and raised (until the age of 8) in Azerbaijan. Just because we changed locations doesn’t mean that my parents’ mentality changed. To this day, 17 years later, they are still coping with a 25 year old un-wed daughter but I myself will never bow down again to anyone. I realized what I really have – in me. Reading this post inspired that light again.
    You told your story beautifully, and have brought awareness to a difficult concept. I applaud you and your strength.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      Thank you. I have been careful and hesitant about the delicateness of this project. I am treading a fine line that contains many necessary distinctions that must be created and repeated. A response such as yours heartens me greatly.

  • May I have your permission to re-blog this post? (With discretion, of course.) I’m grateful that you shared it with us.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      Please do!

  • A lot of everyday repression is invisible to others, and sometimes even those repressed are unaware of it, having been born into the life. And this can be found in many cultures, not just Muslim. It has more to do with control over other human beings and the power and some kind of sick joy that it gives the controller. Thanks for making it so visible.

  • Thank you for sharing, I can feel the pain, the anguish, the liberation.. I am with you, and I will fight with you.. this oppression comes in many guises, and we all need to identity it..

    • asma


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  • Pankaj Kotak

    The pain, the anguish, the craving for reasonable freedom – freedom to do all normal chores without the prying and questioning eyes of one and all, the agony of being treated as guilty without trial, living under continuous suspicions, to be proving oneself innocent without even committing any crime but merely doing everything which even ALLAH and Islam allows but the so-called custodians of Islam have twisted the facts to make it sometimes a living hell for women – comes across so apparently and is of course very painful reading to any reader – May ALLAH bestow the good sense to the makers of such atrocious rules and their followers and till then MAY GOD GIVE THE STRENGTH AND COURAGE TO WITHSTAND AND SLOWLY BUT SURELY GROW OUT OF IT as only it is you who can bring about the desired change as any outside intervention would lead to more and more stricter norms to counter the same terming it as ‘external threat’.


    • nietzschesbreeches

      Thank you for the kindness and giving in your words. I appreciate it.

  • I can really relate to some part of it! But I would want to add the hardest part: coming back to the same suffocated country and realizing your loss. It is then that you realize the worth of how free you were and what a blessing it was.

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  • I’m certainly going to write a post about this topic on my blog . I think it’s awful how many women are treated and it’s sick that this is happening around us , yet we do nothing to change something .. This post is so inspiring !

  • nunya

    You are an amazing woman! May you enjoy many many years of peace and freedom. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I am a “western woman” and I never take my freedoms for granted. I think almost every woman in the United States, believe it or not, has lived with some kind of oppression from a man… it their father or an ex-boyfriend. Some have merely experienced the interrogations about their where-abouts, where others have experienced physical abuse. I have met severely abused women and wondered why they had stayed with the man that had abused them for so long. Either way, it is wrong and I hope that someday, each and every woman will have freedom from abuse and oppression. To me, that is one of the worst crimes you could ever endure. I do not think you have anything to fear…..I do not think you will ever take your freedom for granted. Most people would call me sexist, but I strongly believe that the world would be a better place if it were run by women. Aloha and take care!

  • Thank you for sharing. I too am recovering and much of what you’ve written resonates with me.

  • BahrainiAtheist

    I really enjoyed reading this. I can only wish you the best of luck.

    • Reblogged this on voiceofbalochistan.

    • This was amazing!

    • If I am allowed, I would love to invite you as a guest blogger on our blog.

      There is so much suffering, and it sounds like you had enough for a lifetime. What really touched me, is that I can almost taste how freedom is for you, right now. That amazing feeling of being free, I think you give people thoughts that wake them up. So that we can realize how lucky we are and how we MUST be there for others, who have a very different world around them.

      I really understand if you can`t take time to copy your posts into our blog, but I am crossing my fingers very much, and hope that faith or something else make you curious enough to look into the blog (I am a clinical psychologist, with the crazy idea that the world can be changed by spreading information and love).

      If this isn`t my lucky day, I still wish to say that your writing is amazing, and that I wish all sorts of happiness in the future:)

    • Any form of oppression, be it political or religious, is detrimental to the society. It is saddening to hear the plight of women in the oppressed countries of the world. It is high time that more and more people come forward to discard the religious dogmas which have destroyed the basic freedom of people.

  • Shruthi

    I am so glad that women who experience oppression and freedom talk about it, rather some first worlder who has no clue.

    I’ve been there – father listens to phone calls in the other room, to know if I’m talking to a girlfriend or some boy. father accusing me of being ‘that type of girl’ because he knows I have male friends who have my phone number. father calling me a whore because he saw me on a two-wheeler with a boy. father and mother telling me ‘what will people think’ because I wanted to stay out of my house after sunset. father worrying about what people will think when I wore sleeveless kurtas because you know my armpits are the subject of all the wet dreams of all the men in my city. and so on and so forth. After I got engaged, my parents refused to let me and my fiance go out for a cup of coffee, because, you know, what will people think. I had to lie to go and meet my fiance. Yeah, arranged marriage is cool like that!

    And this is despite having being born to educated parents who grew up in a city. I’m from India, the third world, a place that is insane despite it’s so-called rich heritage and, erm, culture.

    It’s important that voices like your be heard.

    In the specific cases of oppression, only direct experience has a ring of truth.

    I am very happy that you have found your freedom and experience it and savour it. I’m looking forward to reading everything you write. :)

    • I guess You do live in India currently, I just wish to express my solidarity, I know how sick it is in India for females irrespective of their age.

      I have many friends who are girls, and they are doctors, yet I don’t think any of them have saved my mobile number with my name. Imagine this picture, women during their menstruation, in many rural areas across the country have to stay outside that village for 4 days, this is the country I am living in and I am ashamed of it….

      In rural India, most women have to work in the fields, there is no other way.. but they will be paid much less than a man (about 4 dollars a day in current date).

      Almost all girls are married off by the time they reach 15 years of age, so they don’t ever see the face of a college to think deeply about what is life or how it should be lived, all that goes on is a mere survival, just like any other animal, but with much more difficulties and restrictions.

      The worst is with those girls who have some education and are living in semi urban/urban areas, they are the ones that have a severe restriction on freedom… My heart weeps for these middle class girls who do understand what freedom means but have no way of getting out of the perpetual cycle.

      On top of this we have such imbeciles in the government and politics who are always ready to blame the girl’s short skirts and immodest ways of living for the oppression and sexual crimes that happen in the country which perpetuates the problem even more.

      I could write a book on this, its is so painful, I hope Indian girls do come out like you have and enjoy their freedoms.

      I am here to fight, I hope we can make the change happen.

  • Reblogged this on STORY 2 SUCCESS BLOG and commented:
    this is also a problem in my country Nigeria.

  • Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    Freedom to be and to do.

  • Madlene

    Simply.. Thank you. For the very ffirst time since few years I have read so beautiful freedom speach from the bird who has left the cage. Unfortunately there are thousands of woman like you who will never run away from that hell og being under the society control. Unfortunately there are even more who even do not see anything wrong in being controlled by the distorted man’s brains. It is so upseting…But we all have the power to stand up for our rights to be free!!!

  • Reblogged this on Dan Bier and commented:
    Simply devastating.

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  • Reblogged this on Escapist Troubadour and commented:
    I first read this post a couple of days ago, and am not sure how to respond to it in a way that doesn’t sound trite or meaningless. Nonetheless it struck a chord with me, because I believe in every person’s right to be allowed to have and make meaningful choices about their own life. I believe that every human being is worthy of being treated as such, with respect and compassion. I also believe that we are all responsible for the way we behave towards one another, and for the way we react when we treat someone with injustice, or encounter such treatment.
    The author of this post has my sincere gratitude and my deepest respect.

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  • Think of the Elephants

    Please remove the ivory from your header pic!

  • Tessa

    Though I have never experienced this level of fear and having my life controlled by others, I was raised (in America) in a very conservative Chrisian evangelical household, and sadly I can identify with a lot of these feelings regarding newfound freedom that should really have been mine in the first place. I too catered, an still cater, to making my family happy so that I will not suffer the consequences, and I too have stifled myself out of necessity and self-preservation. Again, I was never in as severe of a situation, but when others try to control the life of another human being in any way the psychological consequences are often the same.

  • Pluto Animus

    This article certainly makes Muslim culture seem hateful and incredibly unpleasant.

    Somebody catch me while I faint.

  • Jeannette

    As similar as your experiences are to cults, you would probably find understanding and help in groups of ex-cult members.

    You’re in my prayers.

  • تركي عارف

    احترم رأيك يا اختي لكن زدتي يقيني بأن الله يهدي من يشاء ويضل من يشاء
    لا تقحمين عادات العرب بالدين
    اشكرك على صراحتك
    تقبلي تحيتي

    • nietzschesbreeches

      I thank you for your sentiment, but would like to clarify that you are by no means obliged to respect my point of view. Ideas do not deserve respect by default, and none of them are impervious to criticism, and your dissent and wish that I not conflate what you deem to be separate–ie, Islam and Arab customs–make it clear that you do not in fact respect my point of view. Saying that you do will by no means change my stance and give me reason to listen to your plea because it is a plea I have no intellectual respect for. Thank you.

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  • Dean Boulding

    I loved the article, but hated the title. I fear your experiences are far too common in the Arab world, and certain other Moslem countries such as Pakistan. There are other Moslem-majority countries, such as Indonesia where I live, where such experiences are not the norm. There are still entrenched norms which discriminate cruelly against women, but most stop well short of your experiences. Others here have posted that they shared similar experiences in conservative Christian families and in India.

    I fear that this discrimination is at its worst in the Arab world, and in some other Moslem-majority countries, but is almost as bad in many others, and in some of those others more severe than in some Moslem-majority countries. Calling it a Moslem issue oversimplifies, and is incorrect.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      Let me clarify what you seem to misunderstand. To say that when this happens it is a Muslim issue does not mean that all Muslim contexts must necessarily fall prey to this phenomenon. That was never the claim, and my disclaimer at the end makes this very clear.

      To oversimplify the distinction I would like you to consider, here is an analogy. Again, bear in mind that this is oversimplified greatly for the purposes making a point:

      Assume Phenomenon A can lead to 2 things happening: Effect B and Effect C

      Assume Effects B and C are mutually exclusive for the sake of simplicity.

      Effect B happens prevalently and stems in a causal manner from Phenomenon A. Thus when we discuss Effect B, we can accurately describe it as being an issue concerning Phenomenon A.

      Effect C occurs less prevalently but also stems from Phenomenon A. Just because Effect C is *also* issue concerning Phenomenon A doesn’t make Effect B any the less so.

      It does make Effect B not *exclusively* or *comprehensively* an issue of Phenomenon A. And nobody ever claimed it was (again, see the disclaimer).

      This is even assuming that your point, if valid, is important in any way. That is, this is assuming that misidentifying a non-Muslim issue as a Muslim issue is a matter of significance, which I am unconvinced of until you can show me how such a misidentification will lead to any material damage other than people getting offended. If that is its only damaging prowess, then I think it is safe to say that this is negligible in light of the good awareness of people who are ACTUALLY SUFFERING will bring.

  • I do know what freedom is. But I learnt it in precicely the opposite way from you. I grew up in Norway. To a Norwegian, USA seems to be a pretty religious, conservative, limited place to be, full of taboos surrounding sexuality and with restrictive gender-norms for women to follow or be shamed. We watch American movies where the young couple are worried about being discovered by the father of the girl (never the mother of the boy!), and pity them.

    I grew up, taking the freedoms you praise in this marvellous blog-post for granted. I didn’t call it freedom. I called it “normal”.

    At 12, I took up penpalling. At 17 I got my first foreign penpal. At 19 I got my first penpal in the Middle East.

    I’d heard about it, you know ? The abuse. About some woman stoned for no crime other than loving the wrong man. About the Taliban staging violent attacks on schools for girls.

    But having heard of the extremes of something in the abstract, in the news, read by a unemotional newsguy who’s likely never had a muslim friend is one thing.

    Actually knowing someone, or as time passed and our friendship grew, to love someone, is different. I’m not talking about romantic love here, just friendship deep enough that the well-being of your friend actually *matters* to you. (I personally think that anything that falls short of this scarcely deserves the label “friendship”)

    It breaks my heart. And it’s the small things that pile up, not the few *huge* things. It’s not being raped, stoned or executed. It’s not being able to sit down in a cafe, drink a cup of coffee with a guy you study together with and talk about the silly movie you saw last night. It’s not being allowed, at age 25, with money you earned yourself, to own a acoustic guitar and practice Eric Clapton songs in your own room. I cried with Sepideh, the evening she was forced to return the guitar.

    And the people who did this to her, and to millions of girls like her, are people who genuinely love her, and do only what they believe is best for her. Yet in reality there’s a gulf the size of Grand Canyon between those who should be closest. And that too, breaks my heart.

    If she ever manages to escape, if, like in her dreams, she succeeds in finding the freedom you’ve found, then I’ll be righ there at her side, with a hug, and a guitar.

    I’ve read your post 3 times over the days since you posted it. I want to thank you. It’s vitally important that women like you are heard, that you have a voice, because so many do not. Thank you so much for writing this. I am so happy that I got a chance to read it, and I hope I get the priviledge of reading a lot from you in the future.

  • I am not a white American scholar or a Muslim woman myself. I am an American woman who is so grateful for the country she was born to when she hears these stories. I am moved by your story on this July 4th. For today I am happy you have found your new freedom. I would imagine the anxiety you are experiencing is normal to your circumstances. I wish you a long happy life fulfilling your personal happiness as you choose what you want it to be. I give you a big hug and welcome you to our country.

  • I am very happy for you. 😉

  • BahrainiAtheist

    Just for the record, even as guy living in the Middle East. I can relate to a lot of your problems. Deleting texts. I left the house to make private phone calls. Skype calls on my laptop.. forget it. I didn’t have my own car for a while and whenever I left the house I was called 5+ times to get interrogated. Let alone the interrogating before I get to leave the house. Hell, leaving the house at 9 PM is almost impossible. The downsides of being a girl in the Middle East is much worse, no doubt.. but guys here are repressed and treated like 12-year-olds who should stay in their parents’ home until somehow, with no experiences in life, they should be ‘prepared’ for marriage.

    • To me (a complete outsider, but one with several close friends in several ME-countries), it seems like really, a lot of these restrictions revolve around controlling sexuality. Many of the things that you’re not allowed to do, and much of the interrogation, is needed to bluntly, stop you from having sex.

      When a woman must wear modest clothing, when phone-calls from members of the opposite gender are suspect, when parents wants to know where you are and what you’re doing at all hours of the day, when *gender* is such a huge issue, even outside of romance — to me it looks as if a lot of it comes down to sex.

      Why does it make a difference whether you’re having coffee with a man or with a woman — if not for the possibility of sex ?

      I even wondered if this is one reason why these cultures are unable to accept homosexuality. As long as you imagine that everyone is heterosexual, you can prevent sex by segregating the genders. (this of course doesn’t -really- ever work 100%, but atleast in principle you can imagine it works), but if you allow for the possibility that there’s significant minorities of homosexuals, then you’d have to segregate everyone from everyone, and that’d be just flat out impossible to do.

      Men in the middle east certainly also suffer under these conditions, they may enjoy more freedoms than the women, but their freedoms are also severly restricted.

  • A.

    I grew up in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches. So, so, so much of this was horrifying familiar to the point of it being triggering. While we do not have to fear genital mutilation or child marriage (usually), we were not allowed to have lives, thoughts or even emotions, and the penalty for even considering any of the former was severe indeed and could include physical abuse, emotional abuse and shunning. While not all IFB churches or families follow this strict regimen, I’ve met enough survivors to know that many do.

    I am glad you are out and have discovered freedom.

    • I know that many women worldwide suffer serious discrimination. It is maddening to know it even occurs in the west where this should not even be an issue, and within the confines of family life, many girls are mistreated, even abused. When reading these posts I count my own blessings. I am so grateful that I grew up in a home and an area (although conservative, was not anti-female) where I never once felt that I was less than any male. Neither my father or mother were highly educated, yet they were very intelligent and I was raised believing I could do anything and that no one on earth looked down on me because I was female. This gives any child enormous confidence. I went out into the world believing that I could accomplish anything I wanted… I grew up poor, but happy, because I was made to feel special. While I do not wish great wealth on the world, I do wish intelligence because female children are the equal of male children and all should be made to feel that they are greatly valued and loved. It’s a necessity to a healthy mentality as an adult. Otherwise, this vicious cycle keeps on and on. This reminds me of when I made a huge effort to help a poor Sri Lankan woman who was being abused — I saved her from the abusive home, sent her home, helped to support her while she was educated. She later had a son, then a daughter. Despite the abuse she had endured because she was female, she heaped love on her son and abuse on her daughter and finally gave the young girl away to the monks to be raised and abused. The ugly cycle did not end because it was ingrained in her to value her son but not her daughter. EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION, is the key…

      • Education?

        One in three women will be raped in America because of the agenda.

        One in seven men will be sexually attacked.

        The progressive agenda is as bad as militant Islam.

        Get past the anger and the hate, and learn to love the people around you.


    • The exact same blog post could have been written by any young woman of any religion anywhere in the world. I’m sure there are millions of Indian women in this very situation as we speak, for example. It’s not about Islam, it’s about growing up in a society and culture that supports patriarchal practices. And foremost it’s about the unfortunate situation of being brought up by a TYRANT father, a father that could just as well have been Christian, Hindu or Jewish and used religion to oppress his daughters!! The title should read “what it is like to be ME, and how I became to know what freedom is”.

      • Denial of reality is not reality. Islam is misogyny and oppression.

      • Jeanne

        Thank you Layla.

      • That is, quite simply, not true. It’s true that a few conservative and controlling religious people exist everywhere, but the ratio is hugely different. I do not think this blog-post could have been written by a woman who grew up in Sweden, in Iceland, in Norway or in Denmark, for example.

        Of course conservative religious parents exist there too (though in considerably smaller numbers than in Yemen), but it’s not -just- about parents, it’s also about as you say the entire culture. Parents are in practice both influenced and limited by the culture they’re a part of. So yes, a Danish girl could get unlucky and get a father as conservative as a average Yemenite father — but even then, she’d be considerably more free. Because the rest of society would not support and encourage the fathers restrictions.

        Today, a large fraction of the women who grow up under restrictions similar to those described in this blog-post are women who grow up in muslim families and muslim societies. This makes it a muslim problem even though I agree with you that in principle the same thing could happen in any religion.

      • Lois W


      • Gary

        I have NEVER in my life met a Christian girl that had anything near the same problems expressed in this article.

        • nietzschesbreeches

          Thank you for your comment. I would like to suggest that you not discount the grievances of other factions of people, however. There is little use in comparing tragedy. Horrors are horrors objectively, even if worse horrors exist. I also would like you to consider that most people who met and interacted with me on a day-to-day basis my workplace and school, including my undergrads who I taught philosophy and discussed delicate ethical topics with, could never have guessed the life I led. Often a hallmark of suppression is its inability to be externally felt by the other. Please consider how many brave Christian women have stepped forward in these very comments to testify to how their fundamentalist upbringing contributed to similar experiences. Because you have not met women like this or because the women you have met have not shown you their pain does not mean that it does not happen. Thank you.

      • I have to sort of agree with Magic man on this one… that there are some religions (especially when it is outlined IN the religious texts that women are less than equal and subservient) that breed and perpetuate misogyny and oppression of women.

      • Morningjoy

        Or a tyrant mother. Or a mother and father held hostage by their own mental illness, or extended family, or fear of the world. This was my life almost to the letter, and my parents aren’t even religious. My empathy does not diminish or deny the reality of women living in Muslim cultures, it just means that this author has hit on something that is true for a lot of people, including this tired girl in Canada.

  • Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Tom

      Exactly. There are, for example, Christian sects that are similar, but in the modern era they are outliers, whereas such things are dominant in Muslim societies, which have a hyper-developed “honor” culture.

      • Joni Pelkonen

        “Muslim societies” 😀 Oh yes, they are all similar, because they have the same religion. Laughable and idiotic argument. Neonazis, by the way, use the motto “blood and honour”… maybe they are muslims too 😀

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  • jason

    why all the disclaimer at the end? it IS reflective of the religion.

    • Jeanne

      Absolutely. I felt the disclaimer was a slap in the face to the writer and all others who dare tell the TRUTH about religion.

      • nietzschesbreeches

        The disclaimer does not claim it is not reflective of religion.

        To be clear: when this DOES happen to Muslims, I WILL argue it is due to misogyny and violence stemming from much of Islamic thought. That does not mean that this does happen to ALL Muslims though, and that is what the disclaimer addresses. Let’s be honest and avoid confusion. Muslims are not a monolith and Islam is followed and interpreted in a multiplicity of ways,

  • Hind

    This hit so close to home.

  • Amelia

    This is a wonderful reminder of how grateful I should be for my freedoms. I am so happy that you are now able to live in freedom. I hope that you can be happy and enjoy life to the fullest.

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  • Danti

    Oh my God, are those really the things happen to Muslim women in Lebanon and other similar countries? :(
    Muslim women in Indonesia live so freely, we can smile, be happy, feel pretty, have a great social life, have the rights to speak, to direct, to lead groups of people, we even love to wear our scarf too, with various choices of colors and style. And the most of all, we love our religion, our Allah SWT and we love the way we live. Our governments mostly consist of Muslims too, even though I don’t know whether they are really religious or not. But there are no eyes watching us for every single move we make.
    I think the problems there are not in the religion, but the government itself. It may be right if all those rules were set thousands years ago, but this is 2013, this is the future, humans adapt and keep living on, as we have Quran as our guidance.
    I basically think it is okay to have some sins, since human itself is sinful and easily makes mistakes. It’s alright as long as we keep praying and believe in our God, and for me, Allah SWT. It’s the choice we can make. We know what we’ve done and what we will do, and what consequences will come each time we make new sins. But it’s alright, it’s alright, this life is too short and there is a long afterlife waiting for us. Just, don’t escape :). Human’s knowledge is just a tiny glass of water compared with the ocean, that’s why we have Quran as our guidance.

    Think and look deeper to the very heart of you, truth does lies beneath the skin.
    My pray goes to all Muslim women who live in misery out there…..

    • You say it’s all right “as long as we keep praying” — did you read the blog-post, and do you know the meaning of the word “atheist” ? Your comment does not seem to reflect any understanding of this.

      An atheist does not “keep praying”. An atheist does not believe in a long afterlife. An atheist does not use the Quran for guidance.

      It’s nice of you to have a heart for the muslim women who suffer under restrictive patriarchies. But what about the *non-muslim* women (such as our blog-host) who suffer under the same restrictions ? What are your thoughts about them ?

      • Danti

        Yes. I totally know that Marwa is an atheist. It’s Marwa’s freedom to choice, we, Muslims, don’t have the right to force/tell her to worship our God. But I guess this comment may be read by other Muslim women suffering under restrictive partiarchies, that’s why I wish they won’t escape from their religion and keep believing in Allah.
        And, oh sorry for the mistakes. I do care with other women who suffer under the same restrictions, I know there are lots of women out there who live in misery because of that. I hope everything could gets better and women can be more respected in the future. The reason why I was only saying Muslim women in my previous comment is just because the main topic here is Muslim women and I just want to address my thoughts more specifically.

        • nietzschesbreeches

          Thank you for the graciousness of your comment, and for clarifying that your wishes of prayer are directed towards those who freely choose a godly path. Peace.

        • That warms my heart ! Thank you ! The thing is, in many countries it’s impossible to separate muslim women from those who are only pretending, unless you know them *very* well. If you are from a muslim family, and live in Yemen, in Iran, in Saudi Arabia or in Tunisia (to name a few) it’s very unlikely that you go around and openly announce that you are an atheist.

          Because though many muslims are like you, and accept that there’s no right to coerce others in religion (yes I know, the Quran also contains this) — there’s many others who DO believe they have the right to punish people for leaving islam. Many even support the idea that the proper punishment for leaving islam is the death-penalty.

          I’ve got 3 atheist friends who are female and live in the middle east. Every one of them appears to be a muslim, they wear the traditional modest clothing, fast at the appropriate times and even observe prayer-times. Not because they want to, but because the social pressure to conform, and the punishments for non-conformance are extremely stiff.

          But it’s good to be reminded that muslims like you are also not rare. I’ve met many who are in full support of the right of every human being to freely choose what religion they want to follow — and that is a super thing. If every muslim was like you, then this needless suffering would end.

      • afshasrgr

        I would remind everyone that “The penalty for apostasy is death” is a traditional religious belief that a substantial portion of the Muslim world has not given up entirely. One is not allowed to be raised Muslim and declare atheism or ‘insult’ Allah. That is a collective trauma that is too much to bear, *especially* for a ‘mere woman’.

        Do we blame the governments for this? The clerics? The followers? The religion itself?

        Those few of us who have grown up in a *liberal Muslim society* never had to deal with this type of problem, and some deny it exists at all. Those who grew up in a conservative one, hide their beliefs and yearn for the day they can escape.

        • There’s a huge tension between these two statements: Some say the penalty for apostasy should be death. Others say there should be no coercion in islam.

    • Gary

      And if you DON’T wear a scarf you will be approached by certain policeman and things can get ugly. THAT is not freedom.

  • Reblogged this on La Güera Pecosa.

  • These experiences are not unique to Muslim or Arab women. I’m a white, straight American woman and quite a bit of this blog is creepily familiar just from dealing with an abusive manipulative father.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      Certainly not. They sadly occur everywhere. I would not for a second claim they are unique to women living in Islamic societies.

      I am sorry for your pain.

  • one always should have a right to choose life he want.
    i wish her haapy life .

  • rtehxtrhsryweagry

    muslim … atheist …

  • sejeff

    Thanks for posting this. It was very enlightening. As someone who is super pro-equality, I actually find it upsetting to see Muslim women wear a hijab or burqa. In America, people are supposed to be free (to an extent) and seeing them covered up in the heat while their male accomplice chills out in shorts and short sleeve shirts bothers me due to the inequality. It just seems wrong to me.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      It is far, far less likely (though not unlikely) that a woman in the West who covers does not have the agency to do otherwise should she so choose. I hesitate to add, so I am not misunderstood, that extenuating circumstances such as abusive relationships and ostracizing societies and financial and familial dependence can and do constrain a woman in the West and force her to keep wearing what she would not freely choose to wear had she had a true choice.

      However, I would be wary of judging every veiled woman you see as oppressed or unequal. Many of them very jubilantly and convincedly cleave to their religion and veiling and they would be very offended that you suggest that the clothes they choose to put on their body is a mark of their inequality. That is a poor parameter by which to judge because it is not a *necessary* symbol or symptom of oppression.

    • Gary

      In Louisiana 2006 a Muslim woman passed out due to dehydration in my apartment complex. She was carrying the groceries in all by herself while her husband watched TV inside.

  • I grew up the child of an abuser. This post touched me in all the places I do not like to examine deep within myself – all the places I’m scared to look, all the places I’m scared to inhabit. This post was a light shone into the dark recesses of my childhood and adolescence and young adulthood.

    I, too, sometimes find myself scared and bewildered by choices and freedoms. My father was a fundamentalist Baptist, so a lot of the female-oppression, where-have-you-been, who-have-you-been-with, are-you-a-prostitute, that-is-immodest sorts of things ring true to my experience as well. Religion is poison, regardless of which one it is.

    My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced life like this.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      I honor you for sharing this difficult thing. I am sorry for your pain.

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  • I think it is sad here in the US how people don’t realize how lucky they are to live here and have so many freedom! Thanks for sharing this awesome blog. Wouldn’t you agree?

    • I do agree. I am often preoccupied by other troubles (mostly health-related), and while I am so appreciative of the health care I have access to and the luck I’ve had in being born into a progressive family, I don’t spend a whole lot of time feeling gratitude for my freedoms – religious or otherwise. This post was a very powerful reminder of all that I do have control over.

  • This was such an interesting read for me because as a Muslim woman, I’ve never ever felt like this. I think the most striking aspect is how insidious this level of control over another person’s life is. It’s not right and it’s not normal. I note that you mentioned you’re an atheist and whilst I’m a practicing Muslim myself, I do recognise a lot of what you mentioned as prevalent in my South Asian community, both in the UK and in Pakistan. Just to explain for example, my parents, and particularly my dad has never ever stopped me from wearing make-up even though I was quite young (around 13) when I started. Or the underwear. I’d say actually that my dad has always been the type to not give a f*ck – whilst we were raised in a fairly religious household, we were constantly encouraged to speak to people outside our community and know how things work and how to deal with people etc. I can’t really imagine not being able to wear mascara when I wanted or shave my legs when I wanted etc. Thinking about it, I tend to do what I want although I cannot imagine my cousins doing the same. I genuinely think my level of freedom came from having forward thinking parents more in tune with Islam itself and developing a good relationship with Allah rather than the petty “oh my god, so-and-so’s daughter did this” blah blah ideas that came from frankly the most backward thinking culture imaginable. Whilst I like the idea of having good family ties, it would be unimaginable for me to do anything based on what any of my relatives think and cultures where that kind of thinking is encouraged tend to have the worst effect on children. Unfortunately I think the strong family idea has been manipulated by petty people for their own ends to control and hold power over others and I see that in my extended family who tend to tell their kids what to do based on what other people think and live in a community where everything their kids do gets reported back their parents.

  • You have described a world so foreign to me that it took a long time to understand it and that was after reading your blog three times. I feel so sorry that this type of degradation exists. I have two daughters and for the life of me could not think that they would have to endure the treatment you so depicted in your work. I hope that your thoughts endure in a positive vein and by example you bring others out of the darkness into the light of reason.

  • In every sense of the word-Great Post!

  • It’s a little sad that you will probably appreciate the little things America offers more than nearly all of us Americans will ever be able to. Welcome and I wish you the best! This post reminds me of a story. I won’t get into a story too deeply about an Afghanistan family who lived in an area I patrolled as a policeman in the Midwest. The father killed the daughter because she was purported to be dating or sleeping with a black man. It was tragic to say the least, and if it’s any indication of what many of the women you speak of have to consider, then it’s a terrible terrible shame.

  • Reblogged this on thewordpressghost and commented:

    Here is a story from Freshly Pressed about what some Muslim women go through.

    Please remember, like my comment on that page, the progressive agenda is destroying many more women’s lives here in the USA than is proper Islam. Militant Islam and progressives are causing damage in both cultures.

    Love the people around you.

    Seek forgiveness, and love. Put off all forms of evil, hatred, anger, and greed.

    Do you think we can do that for at least this week?


    • SLV

      Really, Ghost, I think you have not been paying attention. Have you not noticed that every Christian woman who has commented on this post as having any sort of similar experience to the writer has acknowledged an evangelical or fundamentalist Christian background? This is not a “progressive agenda,” which you don’t even define. It is a problem generated from a patriarchal system that does not value women as full human beings, reinforced by extremist religious beliefs and customs. You have posted twice and cited “progressive agenda” as the problem both times. Your political agenda is quite transparent and disappointing.

  • Thanks for the post, find what brings joy to your life and do it with no regrets :) I havent been through anything as extreme as you but what I have has taught me that the most important thing is to find out who you are. Keep posting!!

  • It’s terrible how women have to live in some places. I’m glad you’ve found happiness in America and I hope you can keep it for long as possible.

  • I absolutely loved this post and your style of writing! Such a heartfelt post and yes, maybe not all Muslim women feel the same way but there are those who DO and it is important to keep them in mind. Freedom is being able to act without having to justify your every action and move “simply because.” Simply because you are a wife, mother, daughter, sister, woman.

    And as a sidenote to many of the comments I see: this IS a reflection of what Islamic CULTURE has become. Not Islam itself, but Islam as translated and filtered through culture, many of said cultural practices stemming from the time of the Prophet Mohammed and therefore having nothing to do with Islam.

  • Thank you for sharing this story. I cannot imagine how those things affected you but I really enjoyed learning about your experience. It’s not very common that I get to hear about how Muslim women feel about their upbringing.

  • The disclaimer at the end is a reflection of SOME in the Islamic religion…NOT ALL! Every religion has its radicals, some more than others but that goes without saying! I was raised Southern Baptist, and moved to being just simply Christian… This post touched my heart and I am so proud that you had the courage to brave this new adventure! Its one of the reasons I love America! However, my problem with political asylum is that SOME of those same said people come here and get “offended” by my religion or our ways, weather it be the pledge said in schools, or the words “In God we trust” on our currency….. I want to coexist with every one but I don’t want them to come here and change the very things I love. I have met some lovely, heart-breakingly beautiful Muslim men and women and couldn’t be more proud of their journeys and their ability to face ridicule not only from their families but intolerant, ignorant people who like to group all of them together as Islamic extremist! After all, not all Germans are Nazi’s because Hitler was…. *Enjoy your space in the Land of the free, home of the brave*

    • Gary

      The “radicals” in Christian religions don’t hold a candle to the Islamic crazies. They aren’t even in the same ball park.

      Source: I have spent more time on the Middle East than any American in this blog/thread.

      • I only meant there are people in all religions who are extreme or kill for their religion. I don’t know how much time you have spent in the middle east but I am married too a Marine who has spent a total of four years over there… and I am pretty sure I stated that some religions have more extremist than others!

  • Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but that life you used to live is exactly the same life I’m living now. I am a victim of U.S. government harassment. I’m been a victim going on four years. That life you led a long time ago can happen to you again. I’m living proof. There are a lot of us. Go to Google and look under government harassment or gang stalking and see what’s really going on.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      I have a strict no-censorship policy for my blog beyond spam and slurs, but I very nearly did not approve this comment because it is a complete non-sequitur.

      If you would like to comment, I would ask you to read carefully so as not to respond to an irrelevant point. Nowhere did I suggest that freedoms once won are not tenuous and cannot be lost, nowhere did I suggest that freedoms are not constrained in the United States, and nowhere did I make any statement whatsoever about the possibility or probability of my circumstances back home recurring in the US.

      But more importantly: while I sympathize with your troubles, government harassment in the United States is completely irrelevant to the constraints on freedoms many Muslim women suffer from (your segway was unfounded and flimsy and not indicative of a true connection), and while legitimate grievances are certainly worthy of space and discussion, to bring them up in this context calls focus away from and discounts the very real and important plight being discussed, and is discourteous. If I write a post about things dogs suffer from, for instance, a reply tantamount to ‘but cats suffer too!’ is not relevant.

      Think of it this way: had you hypothetically written a blog post describing the inequities you suffer from (and had done so in the most raw, honest, careful, and sensitive way you could muster) I would not dream of commenting on your post to complain of my own grievances, because that would be a severe disrespect to the honesty of your pain.

      Thank you for your consideration.

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  • You’re wrong, we do know what freedom is in a democracy. We just don’t appreciate it until we read a post like yours. Congratulations on your article and on being Freshly Pressed..

  • Thank you for sharing.

    Being from a conservative family myself, this story really resonates with me. I don’t mean to say that my situation was at all comparable to the level of oppression you had to endure, but, I am familiar, to some extent, to that feeling of lingering dread. Even now, years later, I still find myself highly anxious and uncomfortable and unable to enjoy myself fully, as though the fear of the approaching interrogation and unpleasantness is now something inescapably hard-wired into my brain.

  • Every line of this made me want to open my arms to you. <3

  • A wonderful post…It touched me deeply. Thanks for sharing.

  • I found this through freshly pressed and wow what an incredible article- really moving and just so honest. I could never understand truly what it means to be restricted from behaving how I want having grown up in quite liberal family but this made me thankful for that and thankful I have Freedom when others do not and that it takes people to speak out in order to help others gain it :)

  • thanks for sharing …and reminding

  • I get you, I understand where you are coming from for I live in country which calls it self democratic but for women every day is a challenge
    I know so, cos I live that life everyday. I am part of a so called well educated posh society and yet never felt safe…
    Todays India- where after few initial shocks it seems rape has become ok as it is a daily affair, in fact now it irritates men why every case of rape or assault on woman or kid has to be reported by media! Guys please, can’t a man have his morning tea peacefully without knowing plight of woman!
    where parents will kill their daughters for even thinking of marrying some one out of their caste/class/religion, where one never knows which lustful pervert is waiting for a woman/child to take out frustration, where every attack on woman is her fault
    to have THE KEY is heaven

  • This post was very thought provoking. Living in the United States we take certain freedoms for granted as women. After reading this, it made me step back and think about some of things that I do on a daily basis that I take for granted.


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  • Great informative and shocking post, thank you for sharing this personal story

  • So sad!

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  • Loved this statement.

  • R.

    I welcome you…and many you will never meet welcome you here too. We are a nation of immigrants and despite what is frequently projected, most of us do not forget our history, our struggles, how we all arrived here and the privileges we have here.
    I have always been free here but I never take it for granted and I doubt you will either.
    Thank you for sharing your personal experience with us; it is greatly appreciated.

  • Reblogged this on jemtree.

  • Reblogged this on finding development and commented:
    This is by far one of the most powerful pieces I’ve read in a long time.

  • Excellent post. Thank you.

  • Hello at first, second i read your post over and over again for 3 days. now let me introduce my self please my name is zara a saudi muslim covered women i live in one of the most conservative countries where a women you can say chained after this being said. back to your post. as i understood your from lebanon which we all know its an open country . women don’t cover( some do). you have night clubs , cinemas girls live on their own ( i have friends from lebanon ) , they drive cars have boyfriend work in acting, singing companies , airports , hospitals etc . meaning have a space of freedom .
    I on the other hand live in a country with a lots of taboos. no clubs. no cinemas, women don’t drive,we take permission from our family if we are going out, we travel with mahram ( a male escort ) we cover. it sounds like jail right ? i know it does.
    but let me tell you about me and there is a lot like me, i travel alone, i have my own house my own keys to my room and front door, i go out whenever i please no one will judge me or hold me back, i can marry whoever i want and if i love the guy they won’t stand in my way. ofcors no sleeping aroun furnicating is out of the question that doesn’t’ mean people don’t commit it , it happens just like any other place in the world
    your story is cruel and what you went through is painful but it would be fair if you didnt market as islam or tie it to , islam is not a jail my dear . if individuals mistook it its a personnel act, we have this kind of people among us just to be honest. in all religions you will find this kind of mislead people its a normal process in history of humankind

    back to rules and regulations and because your post provoked me really i asked people from different (non muslims and muslims) how was your life when YOU were with your parent one filipino girl said i was miserable i couldn’t have boyfriend i’m not allowed to stay out late and my mom used to check my room. but i’m thankful for her she taught me discipline and not to be used ( that was a motherly act of care and concern of her child. some parent could take it to the extreme this is just ONE example of what women face in different cultures east – west- south or north.

    I was upset at the beginning but then i heard the pain in your words. but kindly don’t throw the blame on islam its not islamic to chain people and steal their life and well , its not islamic to terrorize them , its not islamic to hurt them , its not islamic to break their personality.
    I don’t blame you or the rest of the world if you hate islam there are a lots of bad examples given by bad muslims, yes we have bad muslims , but we have good as well the irony is the bad ones who always get the fame and represent islam in the eyes of the world . we as humans remember bad things and painful experiences most of the time and we generalized it on similars.
    thank you for sharing
    all the best

    • Gary

      It’s “not Islamic” to do what??? Well IF that is true than you need to direct your comments/opinions to the countless Muslims THAT DO consider Islam to be exactly what they use it for. To control women and threaten them with violence if they do something they don’t agree with or is “unislamic”.

      I WISH Islam was exactly how you say it is…. But we both know it is not.

      • Well Gary if we’re going to speak about violence please answer my question , give me one single country Islamic or non Islamic women has been treated good just good nothing more ?! We are speaking about millions of people each one as you kindly pointed out use Islam they way they like .Islam is not a tool Gary it’s a believe and if a person or a group or even a whole country used it the very wrong way it’s not reasonable to generalize that India on the whole Islamic world, if that’s the case we should do the same with all other religions also , Muslims are not perfect YES , no one is denying this fact , we have men that treat women badly just like any other part of the world , we have mislead people uptight and violent , on the other hand we have good moderate Muslims who don’t agree with what’s going on in the name of Islam . This is my point I hope it’s clear and I do respect your point of view and as i said before , I DO NOT blame any one who has this idea about Islam a lot of our people have succeeded to destroy the image of Islam . I say this because I did have my share of bad ideas about other religions but I searched for the truth and I met amazing people ,I learned to understand that people embrace their believes the way they like ,its a fact we all do that somehow , however some do use their religion as a mask for their
        ill intentions .
        Thank you for voicing your thoughts I didn’t agree with you but I do respect your opinion.

        • Gary

          Trying to compare strict Islamic countries to western countries is just desperate. No point in it. These posts/blogs exist because of how terrible it is in Islamic countries.

          And you made the same mistake again… You need to tell the millions of Muslim me that Islam is not a tool of violence and oppression. NOT ME!

          Your problem is with the men that actually commit these atrocities and put the face on your religion.

          I am sure there are many “good” Muslims in the world but if they do nothing to help fix their religion than… Exactly how “good” are they?

          At least Malala was brave enough to speak out against the bad Muslims. (Although she did get shot in the head afterwards :( )

          • I don’t think it’s desperate when we speak about violence and religions and believes if there is violent Muslim, so do Christians so do Hindus so do Atheists. And we all each in their own division try to educate those individuals how to get back to the right track. And please don’t tell that we are not doing anything to fix what happening, you’re not living among us to know how many rehabilitation sessions and lectures has been held and still running to educate the new generation and whoever is willing to be a better Muslim. Judging from afar is not wise my friend
            You have asked me a question, that’s why I told you that Islam is not a tool of violence and women in Islamic countries are not chained to walls. There is some who have been through bad experiences (Fact) including me I had to fight to change people around me and to let them understand my point of view and I got what I wanted my freedom and my right within the Islamic borders for sure.
            Gary I’m neither trying to draw a perfect image of the Islamic word NO nor the Muslims. I just want people to see the difference between Islam as a believe and a Muslim as a believer, what this believer choose to do or act is his own mistake can’t be thrown on Islam itself or mark Muslims as violent and terrorists or that all Muslim women are held captive in their own homes. i used to have very bad ideas about western countries and western people but I met people who changed those thoughts. And I did my own digging.

          • Gary

            Numbers don’t lie. Muslim extremists commit more acts of terror than all religions combined. There are a few videos floating around on youtube that you will see Muslims bragging about that fact. So like I said… there is NO comparison.

            I have done my fair share of digging as well but I am finally back in the US as of last week. My boots still have Afghan dirt on them. Lastly – Every time a muslim terrorist commits violence he will NEVER have to worry about being stopped or captured by other muslims. hmmmm Why is that? The muslim that shot Malala in the face is still a free man.
            How can this be? In America he would have been captured and put in jail.

            HUH? OK fine but how does it feel knowing that NOTHING has been accomplished by these “rehabilitation sessions and lectures”. And I would like to know what countries these “lectures” have been taking place. Because I can name off several countries that have not been affected by these “lectures”. IF they exist at all. Judging from “afar’??? That is so annoying when some random person on the internet acts like they know anything about where I have been in this world. I have been to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Quatar and Saudia Arabia. There are Muslims clerics that would totally disagree with you about Islam. THAT is the reason why Islam is in shambles today. Every other muslims has a different interpretation of it and refuse to change their minds about it.

      • Dini

        Hi Gary,

        what Zara said is true. You can come to my country, Indonesia or maybe Malaysia, or other countries with big muslim population and see with your own eyes how muslim women have their freedom, education, career and how they are treated. And we are treated really well. I don’t really know about the countries in the middle east though, because I have never lived there.


        • Gary

          Not sure what country you are from. I heard Indonesia is decent but I also hear complaints about police walking around to make sure the dresses of women are not too short. Malaysia? I was there in 2003. It was alright.

          Yep, I have been to many countries in the middle east. It is a complete nightmare.

          • Dini

            more than 20 years living in different provinces and different islands in Indonesia I’ve never encountered or even heared about police walking around controling women’s dress.

            I have to disagree with what you said: Every time a muslim terrorist commits violence he will NEVER have to worry about being stopped or captured by other muslims. Actually, Indonesian police have captured Bali bombing suspects and suspects of other smaller bombings in other places. Most of them have had their trial and rechieved heavy sentences. The “good” muslims are trying to do something to prevent these suiside bombers to harm other people by tracking and capturing these organizations.

            yes it’s true that muslims have different interpretation of Islam, but Islam and I think all religions generally teach their believer to be good man and woman. Sadly, some people commit violence such as these bombings or oprresion toward women (which only occurs in several, not all muslim countries) in the name of the religion. If only they learn Islam as whole, they will know that Islam oblige respect to woman, esspecially to the mother. And that Islam encourages muslims (including women) to have good education.

      • Aurora

        please excuse me in advance for my not-fluent english.
        Don’t you think all of this is not about religion but about politics and thirst of power?
        Monotheist religions have been used so many times in history by some governments and sects to control people.
        If you can remember, christians have done very nasty things too.
        They were also oppressing women and burning them when they didn’t want to submit.
        Have you seen how are living jewish orthodox in Israeli colonies?
        Have you heard american evangelists talking about war and collecting weapons for their new crusade?
        Do you know that the leaders of the Burmese dictatorship were pretending to be Buddhists ?
        Zara says Islam is a belief, not a tool.
        It should be so, but there are some governments using it as a tool to control the minds, the bodies and the lives of their population.
        Don’t believe them when they say they are doing it in the name of god.
        They are doing it for themselves.
        They are brainwashing people with religious stories to keep them quiet and to convince them this is the right way.
        In my opinion, oppression and obscurantism may wear many masks and calls itself however it wants, we should learn to recognize it for what it is.
        This is what we have to fight against.
        Not against a community, not against each others.
        Also against the bunch of people who gets the benefit out of others’s misery, ignorance and lack of freedom.
        And they are not all located in Muslim countries, I can assure you.

      • The only point is that Islam sanctions this. Shariah law sanctions this. There may be atrocities elsewhere, but it is not sanctioned by the law of the land.
        This point was covered by the author towards the close of her post.

        You see confusing ppl is what Muslim apologists
        do as a practice. It is what their prophet did, so it is what they do. It can be argued that deceiving is institutionalized in Islam — their so–called prophet is supposed to be the best example for all mankind, so when he did it, so they all do it. His life is comparable to reverand ppl like Hitler, his death is most interesting too. Here, let’s see about that –

      • Lorri Casey

        Hello, Zara. Unfortunately your post is that of a typical woman living under the horrors of Islam: Unwilling to truly look at what Islam is. There is a wonderful Facebook page named Brother Rachid, an ex-muslim from Algeria who converted to Christianity after comparing the Koran to the Bible via correspondence courses. He councils Muslims on the horrors of Islam and also helps them with their conversion efforts to Christianity. I strongly suggest that you take a look. You can argue with a Westerner about Islam but not with a former Muslim. I pray that the Lord one day opens your eyes so that you can escape as the brave, courageous, strong, and independent woman who wrote this post has.

    • king troll

      tell me something. 1. can you travel alone without a male escort? 2.if you do not want to wear the burqa and go out, can you? 3.if you fell in love with a non-muslim, would you be ‘allowed’ to marry him?

    • JovaNS

      Does your holly book say that woman is worth half as much as a man? That you need one male witness or two female ones to do the same thing? That women must cover but not men? That punishment for apostasy is death? You’re reading from the same holly book. Once you actually put all the rules in it into the laws,then we have the problems. And the problem with fundamentalists is that they are following the fundaments of the religion most closely or are following more fundaments than other people. That’s what the word fundamentalist means.

    • Sister

      Zara, what about the Islamic women that are being killed, stoned, hung, after being raped… the victim has become the perpetrator because she is a female!
      What about all the women victim of acid attacks by males?
      What about all the girls not allowed to work and/or study?
      What about all the little girls that have to marry dirty old man?
      What about all the girls that have to act as whores because for real marriage they are not right, since they don’t have a father or money in the family?

      And these things happen in nearly ALL Islamic countries.. maybe not in fortunate families, but go to the poor families, families in bad areas of cities or mountain villages… etc..
      Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and even Saudia!

      The difference between those countries and Western countries is, that girls don’t become perpetrator after being raped… They stay victim and the rapist is being punished!
      Girls are allowed to go to school and study and have a career!
      We don’t have to cover ourselves from top till toe because the males around us think of us as being less than an animal, and we can be raped whenever they have a sexual urge..

      Personally I think it is a disgrace that women like you deny the fact that lots of women are being denied any decent way of living as a human, only because they are female!
      And no… that doesn’t happen in Western countries and definately not unpunished!

    • It is not Islamic but it is religious. This type of behaviour towards a woman is the same in religions around the globe.
      Also, educating your child with rules and regulations is different from ruling and regulating a grown woman. You can not compare that.

      I am happy I did not have to grow up that way. I am aware and happy about the freedoms I have and embrace them daily. I wish more women could have that.

      • I have to agree with Aurora. Religion is a tool that the state uses as a social control mechanism. Many religions have committed atrocities, both in general and towards women specifically (Christianity and Islam are two of the worst offenders, though). When one is raised to believe in a certain way, they will often not question when told to do something that is in tune with that mindset :

        (“Eve caused us to Fall, therefore women are spiritually weak and must be controlled by men–after all, God is male, so the male must be superior”…so when a woman is accused of being a witch, for example, it must be true because everyone knows that women are weaker when it comes to temptation by the devil….see how that works?)

        When the State and the Religion are one, as in a Theocracy, it’s even worse, because then doctrine has the force of law, and can be enforced by both entities. Religion brainwashes individuals into not questioning, and in a theocracy, when the force of the state makes questioningate a crime….

        I think the problem that most people are addressing insofar as the hostility towards Islam is the Theocratic imperative behind it. The religion is the state is the religion, and the religion is the law. There is no choice in Islam. If you don’t follow its precepts you are an apostate, and apostates are punished by law.

        So yeah, I see where lots of people have a problem with that.

        I myself am a non-theist. At least in the States we have that choice, and we won’t be flogged, sent to prison, or stoned to death for it.

    • groverguy

      There are numerous passages in the Quran that are uncomplimentary and promote division and hostility towards non-Muslims, specifically Jews and Christians even though they are ‘people of the book’.
      You were probably told that the Quran is unassailable, but I’m afraid the truth is that it simply isn’t. There’s plenty within it than can be criticised, including Mohamed’s behaviour. That may hurt one’s feelings, but just because the truth hurts is no reason to deny it.

    • Please try actually reading your Koran. It is full of misogyny and if you cant see that then you are not nearly as ‘free’ as you might think. Women are clearly enslaved by Islam.I was very interested in Islam for a long time (I still am) and I wanted this not to be true….but it is. You cannot dispute what is in black and white. The decent muslim people are good because that is the way they are – they have empathy for other beings – not because of their religion. Bad muslims are bad because they lack empathy and use the koran to justify their acts easily. The koran itself has so much negativity and cruelty in it that I wouldnt know where to start. I am so glad that a narcissistic,sadistic and petty god like Allah doesnt exist (Im glad that no gods exist)….It is very sad that there are women in this world who purposely believe lies and help keep each other dowm. I wonder what you would feel like if you had the freedom that this writer has – are you secretly jealous or is it that you simply just cannot imagine such a thing???…

    • John

      You are another Brainwashed victim of the human atrocities Islam, more then ANY other religion, propagates on its women.

      • John

        ANY theistic claim is simply Ignorance, especially when it comes to personal rights and freedoms for both sexes as well as sexual orientation and race.

    • Sara

      Dear Marwa,

      This was a beautifully written piece. Thank you for sharing this- it must have been difficult to be so honest. I read it once, then again, and again, perhaps because it reflects my life so well. I feel like I carry invisible chains around my ankles. My parents and my brothers dictate, and I must follow.

      I studied a university, completed my MSc and went on to secure a good job working in the government- I make decisions at my job, I manage people and I oversee some international projects. My friends and colleagues have often been quick to praise me, but they do know the real me at all. I live a double life, and when I return home, in the evenings, I become nobody. Somebody who must always compensate for others, stay quiet. I am watched, and in some cases, I have even been ‘spied’ on by family members when I leave the house. I have had relationships, but as you can imagine, the emotional turmoil at home has led me to make bad decisions, and they have failed. I am now expected to marry who my parents have chosen. They control where I go, who I meet, what I where. My evenings and weekends are dedicated to them- to have a social life outside of work is beyond their understanding. I used to be passionate about art, politics and philosophy, but I cannot pursue any of these interests outside my home.

      Though I will always fight against this, it can be deeply challenging. One thing I forgot to mention is that I live in London. Perhaps you wouldn’t have imagined that this takes place in the West, but that is far from true. The one comfort that you have, which I do not, is that you were surrounded by other women who experienced something similar. I, on the other hand know very few people I can relate to. Many of my Muslim friends have got married to escape this – I have never believed that that is the way.

      Thank you once again for posting this blog. Finally, I would like to say one thing in regards to the comments below- I think we should try to steer clear from debating Islam. This often dilutes and distracts one from the real issue. We can debate for years on what rights Islam gives for women (and certainly that has been the case) and we will never reach a consensus, it is time to move on from that debate.

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  • Wow a good post! Do check up ny blog too and follow. Haha

  • The things that everybody should be aware of. Thank you. People in “free” (as we know now, not exactly free) countries have no idea how is it to “belong” to the culture where you are not supposed to be free. And be surrounded by nice people that wish you good, for your own good, or else.
    This is very sad, and thank you for sharing.

  • nice post

  • You’re a brave lady, going through a difficult transition. You deserve all the good things you are now enjoying, and we must all work to bring all your sisters out of the religious oppression that they now endure. We must help educate the world that religion is man-made and a delusion. Well done.

  • This was an incredible post. Very, very moving.

    I’m praying for you — you are courageous and strong and an incredible leader. I’m SO glad you have escaped from the terrors of your past life, but do know that there is a God who loves you — not a cruel father who controls and dominates you, but one who is actively involved in your life and has given you choice, who loves you terribly and who made you to be the beautiful, inspiring woman you are.

  • What I admire most about this post is that you are speaking for yourself and from your experience. These viewpoints are needed more on western discussion about muslim women.

  • This is exactly how I feel, all my life I pretented and do everything they expect me to do..
    The time I moved in @ manila proper..

    I tried to come out one by one for what I really feel, it takes time to come out, by reading,, then abandoning the veil, then everything follows, and search for truth then found my free thinkers fellow

    They already knew about it now, am all out, but still others are indenial and want to see the veiled me before. It was so hard, to be yelled to be bullied, and everyone around is making you feel stupid.

    But now, Tnx, am all free, to say everything I want..even thou am still with them..

    Now a militant agnostic
    Nice post. Very inspirable 😀 makes me feel am not alone..

    Ps. I was a religous shit before, knw quran hadiths n verses, BEFORE!

  • Abdiel

    I want to hug Marwa.

  • Susan Keller

    What a powerful blog. I was able to step into your shoes (so to speak) for a while and experience what you life was like. Thank you for writing.

  • AphoticEnigma

    Beautifully written and so inspiring :)

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  • For freedom Christ has set you free, Do not become slaves of men. Take courage God is on your side, He is the author of Freedom. Remember Hagar, when she fled into the wilderness with Ishmael, God remembered her, She was not out of sight of his protective hand, take courage, Take courage, Take courage …. God is with you!!!!

    • Gary

      Hey let’s not try to thrust another fairy tale upon her. She just left one.

    • Shom

      Genesis 3:16
      Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

      (I double Gary’s sentiments)

  • I’ve been in the same situation as Marwa found herself in. I’ve been struggling to find my way out too for years, and finally 2 weeks later I will leave for the US to continue my graduate studies.
    There are two things that I agree from Marwa’s post. First, the fear of having the capability to be free. That fear is very real, the fear to feel the happiness is real. I am frightened by the capability of setting myself free and letting all the other woman who lives the same nightmare as mine drown into that patriarchal culture for the whole of their life (I say it’s ‘culture’ not ‘religion’, and I will explain it why later). What I am afraid is that I am going deep into the spirit of freedom and then once I get back home I will find the society’s rejection so strong that I can’t help my sisters, cousins, mother, aunties, and all the closest women in my life out of that situation.
    The fact that currently by seeing my determination to study in the US some female cousins are eager to have their higher education too, is worsening my fear. I am afraid that their flame of spirit will be gone when I can’t continuously supporting their steps due to the society’s rejection. I am afraid that my little sister will just go through the same things when she grows up and I can’t do a thing to help her out.
    The second point that I agree upon is, that intangible institution of repression is really there. Just like what Marwa said, some of us have our ‘fake freedom’. We go to work, we go to school, we have money, etc. But the social constraints are so strong that we can’t have the substantive freedom. I have a keen interest for studying other religions and have some holy scriptures in my possession, and yes, I have to hide it away because people around me will be worried so much if they find it. They’ll keep accusing me of trying to convert into Christianity or Judaism only because I read the Bible and Torah. The fact that I am also studying Quranic exegesis and staying true to my Islamic rituals like wearing Jilbab and pray five times a day wouldn’t cease their doubt away. I am just too ‘alien’ and they don’t understand me.
    On the other hand I have some points to make as well. First, I always believe that all the oppression to women that we see today is bigger than just religions. It’s not a matter of Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, or others. It’s not a matter to blame on the mere existence of men as well. It’s a matter of the world that is build upon the patriarchal perspective, and women as well as men are the victims of it. For women the struggle and fear might be clearer, we try to free ourselves from the tangible/intangible bodily exploitation from time to time. For men, the struggle and fear might be more obscure, but it is there. I am sure a number of them are sick to see social expectation that depict ‘an ideal man’ as the one who act like a prince charming, gentle, rich, smart, yet has a deadly power, muscular body, and never cry. Women never have to fulfil those expectations, but it doesn’t mean that our condition is better.
    To me the patriarchal culture embodied itself in the tight family and social control which takes on religious claims to justify its existence. Furthermore in my case the culture can be traced back to the Javanese royal tradition, where the daughters of nobility and clergy shouldn’t roam around alone or out of the house in the night to keep the purity of the bloodlines (they say that it’s for the betterment of the girls of course, but clearly it’s for the sake of the absurd patriarchal pride of the family, or for saving/adding the family’s wealth). Similar things might have happened to Marwa and thus I can really feel what she felt.
    Second point to make, since it’s clear to me that the religions are only used as a justification for all the oppression. I can’t put the blame on the Qur’an which I believe as the central tenet of Islam. In fact, I believe that God never wants us to oppress each other, or more, to do it in His name. Qur’an, like all other holy scriptures, is an inanimate object and free for any interpretations. It is the human’s mind that speak for it, thus, if there are any oppressions in the name of Islam, it’s the Muslim who does it. Take example, there’s an Ayah in the Qur’an that is often used as the justification for the men to take an absolute authority in the family, or the men to forbid any women to be a leader in prayer (“Qiwamah al-Rajul”/The Leadership of the Men). A part of this Ayah, which is becoming the basis of the claim is “Ba’dhahum ‘ala Ba’dh” (Q.S. al Nisa, [4:34]) (translated: what Allah has given one over the other ). The patriarchal reading of this text of course will say that ‘men is given (by God) certain qualities over the women, and thus men is the leader of the women’. But the critical reading of this part of Ayah will reveal different interpretation since God never mention explicitly whether the ones who are above the others are men over women or vice versa. The critical interpretation might draw a conclusion that whoever is more able to do certain things than the others deserves to be a leader (either in household level, society, religion, government, etc) and thus very much an emancipating message.
    The third point to make is that the families or societies who do the oppression are only the product of the same fundamentalist teaching and tradition. When I ask my mom and aunties how their childhood were, they were also been forced to submit themselves to the same destructive tradition. One of my aunty was married as early as 13 years old. And if I could ask my long gone grandparents as to why they married their daughters very early, most likely that they would reveal the same bitter experience and that they learnt from it. What I am trying to say is, for those of us who are able to make our way out and find the empowering experience of freedom, we have the moral obligation to cut the viscious circle in which we used to find ourselves in. We have to pick our battle and spread the message that women can go far, and I think the first thing to do is to save our own sisters, moms, and aunties. Because the world is indeed would be a better place when women and men find each other as equal partners.

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  • What is mean to be muslim. why you need to have religion, why you want to live velow the role of a religion, religion does’t exist , it is only your mind, reliong was create by mankind and not God, and may God doesn’t existe, whom knows? you don’t need to loss you precious time thinking in religion or goig to church, you are you own boss, you do what

    wht ever you want to do .in a goog manner, it’s very simple to live a good and decent life,.

    and whe you die

    ever you like to do,. in a good manner. it is very simple, that’s all I said and I hope you

    can understan
    ever you like to do . your selr . you are GOG.

  • leila

    Beautiful and well written. This article captures the ridiculous social and moral “values” of this culture and religion. I was raised muslim but my mother was American. I was lucky. I was also raised in America. Lucky. I still had to escape at 14. Again, Lucky. This is the first time I have read a post that truly captures the paranoia and guilt instilled in young women. Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am.

  • Reblogged this on A Vroom of Our Own and commented:
    This is not about politics for me. It’s about life. Wherever girls are limited, the world is limited.

  • Rhonda

    My hope and wish for you is that you embrace our ALL LOVING GOD and OUR SAVIOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST……..then and only then……will you have freedom and be truly FREE. Then all you want will be YOURS forever…….do you have the strength and guts to give HIM a try???????????

    • nietzschesbreeches

      My hope and wish for you is that you embrace the REAL TRUTH that there is no such thing as a creator/redeemer in this universe, that your only hope for a fulfilled life is to doubt your dogmatic beliefs and use science to contest the unproven and unlikely… then, and only then… will you have freedom and be truly FREE from the shackles of fairy tales and lies….do you have the strength to give LOGIC, REASON and THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD a try????

      ^Do you understand how radically invasive speaking to someone like this is? Don’t try to push me towards your personal beliefs. Thank you.

      • Ben

        nietzschesbreeches – You couldnt have said it any better.

  • I found this post beautiful and thought provoking. Thank you for sharing your experience and allowing me to see freedom in a new way.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, firstly your comment about the black inner city kid versus the straight white male was blatant racism that’s really starting to piss people off…. I’ll leave it to you to figure out why it’s offensive if you can be bothered to think about it.

    The rest of your story was very gripping however. It was a real eye opener. I knew life for some Muslim women was bad but had no idea it was to that extent. Utterly shocking.
    I’m glad I read it. Good luck and peace with the rest of your life = ).

    • nietzschesbreeches

      No. If you think pointing out that structural inequality and lack of privilege of people of color exists in America is racism, then you either do not understand the point or are utterly blind to the power dynamics constantly privileging white men in this country, or else you are a racist. African Americans are STRUCTURALLY discriminated against. That is the racism at play here, and fuck white privilege for being so supremely butthurt at having to own up to its own unfair advantage. Defend and explain your point or else do not make it.

    • nietzschesbreeches

      And I care not a whit about offending white people or racists.

      • That’s a surprising comment, coming from you. Guilt by associatino isn’t pretty. It’s grossly unfair when someone assumes everyone who looks Arab is a religous extremist, as you yourself is proof enough, nothin could be further from the truth.

        The same thing applies to white people. Not everyone who is white shares whatever negative property makes you not care about their feelings.

        • nietzschesbreeches

          That is obvious and I thought it was clear that the statement was in reference to a specific concept. I apologize for the ambiguity. The context was people being offended by the concept of white privilege. I do not all care about the feelings of those who find it an imposition to have to acknowledge their own unfair advantage.

          • It wasn’t entirely clear from that statement alone – thanks for the clarification !

            From the general impression I have of you, i.e. that both your head and your heart is screwed on right, I was pretty certain you couldn’t mean that the color of a persons skin alone would make you care less about offending them.

            It’s true that some people are amazingly ignorant of how priviledged they themselves are, I find more often than not that’s simply caused by inadequate (often near-zero) contact with anyone in other circumstances.

            Then there’s those who had every opportunity to learn, yet where unwilling to, often because learning would mean admitting that the main reason they’re priviledged is just plain dumb luck, not that they’re in any way smarter or more hard-working than less fortunate folks.

  • It would be respectful and correct if you would mention the original author of your text, namely Mrs. Wafa Sultan in her book : “A God Who Hates”

    • nietzschesbreeches

      What on EARTH are you talking about? You are misguided. If you are accusing my original content of being plagiarized, provide evidence of your claims. False accusations are vacuous and violate my copyright.

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  • Henry Plantagenet

    I work with survivors of domestic violence, and this girl’s past experience sounds a lot like what the DV survivors go through — living like they’re spies in enemy territory, a world ruled by men.

  • Awesome.

  • Nicholas

    Ma’am thank you for reminding me of what freedom is and how important it is. All the best for your new path, savour every minute, after reading this I know I am again.

  • david

    I am just thankful that I was born in Britain, can go wjerever I want, do and think whatever I want etc etc. However, I am Caucasian, middke-class and male

  • Julie

    I came across your blog on The Thinking Atheist facebook page.
    Props to you for starting this blog. I appreciate that you have the courage to share your story. I enjoy hearing/reading stories about women who escape religious oppression. It is not an easy thing to do and it is not easy adjusting to life with all of the new freedoms that you listed.

    I left a Mormon Fundamentalist group 14 years ago, this month. :-) I still struggle with many of the things you listed in your post after all this time. I still separate myself from that life/that person… This statement especially hit home with me, “It has been so hard to train myself to voice my feelings and opinions. To turn my face on.”

    You have reminded me of the many freedoms that I am thankful for in my life today.

    I am thankful for the cup of coffee I’m about to drink, the bag of sugar in my pantry and my stocked home bar.

    We always had keys to our homes and cars but we were not allowed to have the deeds and titles.

    My money wasn’t my own. I had to ask for it if I wanted to purchase something that the group didn’t offer in one of it’s many businesses throughout the Salt Lake Valley. I still find myself explaining to the bank teller what I’m doing with my money if I ever withdraw a high amount.

    My family and I spent the evening out on the lake with some great friends. There was no guilt; no thoughts from my past about how I shouldn’t make friends with “outsiders”, how I shouldn’t be near people that let alcohol near them, and there was no fear about saying the wrong things to them or accidently telling the groups secrets. It wasn’t a quick transition to get to this point though… It took me 12 years to let an “outsider” get close enough that I could form any kind of meaningful relationship.

    I went to school and got the degree that I thought was a good fit for me!
    When I was 17 my boss came to me and told me that the groups leaders had a meeting and decided that I would go back to school and get my Engineering degree. Go back to school, because these same people thought I needed to be pulled out of the 11th grade.

    I waited nine years into my marriage to have children because I could CHOOSE to not have a child.

    So many things were controlled, with false choices, just as you mentioned in your post: diet, money, jobs, homes, marriage, children, healthcare, you name it.

    Because the group is in the United States, there are less brutal deaths. There is no stoning or genital mutilation (although it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that there has been). There are still beatings that leave women and children unable to move for days. Many women and children have died from lack of healthcare. Babies are buried in the back yard if they are born disfigured, stillborn or pass after birth.

    It disgusts me that all of this goes on anywhere in the world. Religion gives so many “permission” to do terrible things. It saddens me that the US allows it go on in the name of “freedom of religion.” These groups are protected in a country where freedoms should be enjoyed.

    Anyway, I could go on forever… I too want to see changes and want to do anything I can to help aid in these changes.

  • Jessica

    Women are mistreated every minute of every day. In rich countries, in poor countries, in good families and bad. Some of us walk on eggshells, in fear of angering our fathers or husbands. Some of us are beaten. Some of us are raped. Some of us are sold, like livestock.
    To bash this courageous woman for sharing her story is to commit another crime against women.
    Black, white, brown, red, and yellow, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist, we are all sisters and brothers. Do not be so quick to judge someone when you have never been that someone. You never know when things might change, and that person’s story could be your life.
    Marwa, I wish love, happiness and success. You are a beautiful, beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing.

  • Marwa, this is a very powerful story you’re telling here. Thank you for sharing it. I hope it helps other women escape the chains :)

  • lisa

    freedom…ah freedom.
    its beautiful isnt it?
    its a shame that many women are oppressed. but not only women, LGBTQ individuals also live somewhat fearfully because of the stigma religion puts on them. its a shame really…a shame.

  • Leto

    I read your post and I cried because although I grew up in the United States of America I feel the exact same way. I did not grow up in Islam, I grew up in deeply oppressive conservative Christianity. I grew up in a community where men owned women, and when I left I was terrified, not just because I was alone, but because I was lesbian. I haven’t lived at home for years, and still I wake up in nightmare terrified that my father will come through the door to rape me just to remind me that I belong to men and cannot be with a woman. I am so sorry for your abuse, and am so amazed at what you can do despite it.
    For all those who are angry with this woman for posting, her post isn’t about Islam her post is about any religion taken to an extreme, any religion that forgets its God and becomes oppressive.

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